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Think Globally, Shop Locally

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You are running out of time. You have a couple of choices. One choice is to get in your giant vehicle and burn fossil fuel going to the big city. There you can get out of your vehicle, walk a quarter mile and go into a crowded store. You won’t know anyone and you may or may not find any sales people, as they dress differently during the holidays to be less conspicuous. If you find one, chances are they won’t be able to answer your question, because they were just hired on Monday, they have been in three different departments, and today is only Wednesday. So you make your purchase and trudge back to your SUV, head back through the traffic and go home. At home you realize that you bought the wrong size, the wrong color and there’s a stain on the bottom behind the sales tag. Bummer.

    Your second choice is to sit on the Internet and get a stiff neck because you’re never going to buy that ergonomic chair for yourself, and wade through  looking for stuff online. Yes it is efficient, if you can maintain any kind of decent connection, but don’t forget you pay shipping and handling charges that never seem to pop up until after you put in that credit card number. Yes, you got the job done, but are you in the spirit? Did you get to talk to anyone or smile? Or is your computer in the coldest part of the house and your kids are screaming to play games? I’m not getting a warm and fuzzy feeling with this scenario.

    So that leaves us with option three – shopping locally. Here is my pitch. You get to park in the City parking lot without a care because there is always a spot and this month it’s free. You walk leisurely around town where you get to see – everyone. Because you must really stop and chat you are moving at a slower pace and are less likely to slip and fall, or become stressed. Walking is good for your health and you can report your activities to your doctor as one positive step you took to offset the abundance of cookies you keep eating. You are at a total loss for what to buy, but why? Sandpoint offers a plethora of choices.

    If you are in my family then all shopping begins with the announcement that one needs coffee, food or you have to go to the bathroom. Depending on the order of things, we love to lunch with the kids at Jalapenos where the service is always excellent and the spoon is always in the hot sauce. So we chow down and now we are ready to get rolling. If you’re looking for a beautiful plant, arrangement or centerpiece, then visit my friends at Petal Talk, Nicole and Mary. Something green is a nice offset in our wintery white season. If you’re looking for a chuckle or a fist full of jelly beans, swing into All Smiles. I never miss a chance to go to Cabin Fever where the calming music beckons me to slowly move through the wide variety of cool things to buy. I always finish in the basement where I can buy a latte. Then if I’m feeling really bold I go into Coldwater Creek. There is always something neat to buy, if we can move the kids past the stuffed animal section. If you’re into the arts, and who isn’t, then Northwest Artisans is a great place for a host of offerings from local artists. Or go into Hen’s Tooth Studio and get a print framed on the spot. I get to look at that gift every day since it hangs in my living room. But if you are not creative and you really need help, then I can’t help but suggest going to see my anchor Christmas source – Sharon’s Hallmark. I go in there and circle round like a hawk. My tiny wheels turn as I check the nooks and crannies. I never thought I would end up finding anything  there, and I have yet to go in that store without leaving with some item that is a perfect fit.

    If you want a fabulous handmade item then Northwest Handmade is the store for you. Chris bought me a lamp there that I totally love. The lamp shade has Canadian maple leaves in it and it looks great when the light is on. The lamp sits on an end table created by Misty Mountain furniture and you really missed out if you didn’t catch their reception last Friday. Fortunately they are displaying the artisans’ work all month and there’s very reasonably priced items for sale.

    There are so many great places to go shopping downtown – Dolphin House, Snow River, Fosters Crossing, and no matter how many places I try and stop, there is always somewhere that I have never been in. Then there is the gift certificate route. You can give the outdoor experience of kayaking with Josie, skiing at Schweitzer or get a snowmobile at Sandpoint Marina Shop. You could give a pass to the Festival or buy a membership to the Pend Oreille Arts Council for a friend who never does anything nice for themselves. Virtually every store sells gift certificates if you like the establishment but can’t decide on the gift. And I would be remiss not to share my Christmas plan this year. Actually I didn’t wait for Christmas before I started giving the gift of a subscription to The River Journal. It isn’t a shameless plug – people who have been here or have people that they care about in this area love to read about us. It a little like being here for them and each issue brings them a little bit closer. I swear – just ask my Mom.

    So challenge yourself to apply the same shopping principles you use in the big store – shopping strategically, looking for bargains, searching endlessly – only try these concepts here in town. Forget your preconceived ideas that you won’t find what you want for the price that you need to pay. Think out of the box and use that extra time to really enjoy the essence of the holidays – time with your friends and family. How many times have you found yourself saying this year, “Thank God I live in a small town.” Well here is your chance to practice what you preach.


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Carol Curtis

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